The loss snapped Colorado's seven game winning streak, including a 3-0 start to the Big 12 season for the first time since the 1996-97 season, and kept the Cornhuskers undefeated on their home court.
This is the last scheduled meeting between the two teams in Lincoln with Colorado moving to the Pac-12 and Nebraska moving to the Big Ten next year.
Nebraska took control of the game early by playing a zone defense that didn't allow Colorado to get into the paint. The Buffs had a season-high 12 3-pointers, but the bulk of those were out of necessity. Nebraska, which outscored Colorado 44-22 in the paint, was led by guard Toney McCray's career-high 17 points and 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting by center Jorge Brian Diaz.
"We knew coming in here that the thing Nebraska does is take away your easy baskets, they take away you getting to the rim," coach Tad Boyle said. "They're going to be in their sagging and taking charges. We knew we were going to have to make shots tonight to have a chance to win. I think we made enough - we scored 67 points - and we only got to the line nine times. We're averaging 29 free throw attempts a game. That wasn't happening tonight, but we still scored 67 points and that's enough to win on the road if we keep Nebraska to their average (63). We didn't do that, which is why we were on the short end of the stick."
Colorado was also outrebounded 31-24.
Colorado was actually in the game early and even led for parts of the first half, but after going down 31-30 at halftime, the Buffs were never able to get back on top mostly because of carelessness with the ball. Colorado had 16 turnovers, but seven of those occurred during the first nine minutes of the second half. The Huskers went on a 13-2 run early to put the game out of reach and the Buffs were never able to recover.
Guard Alec Burks led the Buffs with 22 points, but he also had seven turnovers. Guard Levi Knutson, who has been the biggest offensive surprise for the Buffs this season, added 17 points, including five 3-pointers.
"The first thing we always put on our board is 'transition defense,'" Boyle said. "We've been doing a great job of taking transition baskets away from our opponents and tonight we didn't. When you play on the road, you have to take those easy baskets away and we didn't do a very good job of that tonight. Nebraska is a good team. They can run. They have some good athletes on the floor and we knew that. We just didn't do a good job on the defensive end tonight."
Colorado will have a chance to start a new winning streak Saturday when it travels to Oklahoma.